How does one begin the short biography of a non-conformist? I was in awe when I first read Susan B. Anthony’s life story. She was ahead of her time, one of the first few to be unapologetic in being a feminist.
Born in 1820 in Adams, MA, Susan was the second child and was not like other kids. She was unbound by any tradition or rule; she made sure that she did as she pleased, even under the glaring eyes of her strict teacher Miss Deborah Moulson.
Susan was always one who laughed out of turn and wrote without the censorial approval of Miss Moulson. But these were nothing compared to what’s referred as her unregenerate conduct when she accidentally broke her teacher’s table. This was after she jumped on it to reach for the cobwebs on the ceiling. This was categorized as misdemeanor so Susan had to be punished.
The punishment for her unruly behavior was public scolding. She was also sent to the regions where the worm dieth not and where the fire was not quenched. Susan later recorded in her diary that she felt like a worm during that moment but was quick to add that… “I preferred to be a worm..than a girl”. She reasoned that as a worm, she could wriggle without being scrutinized by her fellow [wriggly] worms.
Miss Moulson’s Seminary did her good, though, for she developed her own literary style while having shades of rebellious writing still. She earned $2 every week for her job as a teacher and was obliged to help her family when her father lost their cotton mill.
Her work contract was never renewed, though. The world simply wasn’t prepared for her defiant speech. But this did not stop her from being, well, her. Eventually, she was appointed to become the principal of the Canajoharie Academy girl’s department.
Many of the villagers there were fond of her insomuch that local magnates had marriage proposals. To this, she replied, “No, [thanks] I do not want to [become a] man’s legalized [slave]“.
Susan soon studied the civil, social and religious rights of women as spurred by a certain convention of women held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY.
The Anthonys were supportive of Susan’s mission. As a family, they often discussed the inhumane practices in other cotton mills. In 1856, she actively participated in the American Anti-Slavery Society. By 1868, she became the catalyst for The Revolution (a weekly woman’s rights newspaper). A year later, she became the vice-president for The National Woman Suffrage Association.
In 1872, being the rebel that she was, she was arrested for casting an unsolicited vote during the presidential election. In 1899, she had her last public appearance in the International Council of Women to which she was a delegate.
Susan passed away in 1906 at Rochester, NY.
To this woman, I take off my hat to salute her fearless acts. Indeed, she was a beacon of hope to the oppressed women during that era, also, she proved that higher education can fortify a woman’s profession – and eventually her life.